Swamp Thing’s third episode, “He Speaks,” starts with Alec Holland (Andy Bean) remembering what just happened between his boat exploding and killing the man that was chasing Susie, then cutting back to Swamp Thing (Derek Mears). While in the last episode viewers saw the creature for the first time, Swamp Thing isn’t presented as the terrifying abomination he was previously with Abby Arcane (Crystal Reed) cowering away from him.
Instead, in “He Speaks,” he seems far more human and now aware of his actions. But as Swamp Thing leaves, the remains of the man he killed slowly begin to cover with bugs, leaving viewers wondering, how much of the swamp does he control? The opening moment creates an uncomfortable dichotomy between the man and the Swamp Thing killed and Alec. The scene immediately establishes the tension that is carried throughout the episode.
As the show moves back to focusing on Abby, we learn the CDC has sent a supervisor to change the drug regiment that Abby initially started for victims of the strange disease. Additionally, Dr. Jason Woodrue (Kevin Durand) is investigating the outbreak, courtesy of Avery Sutherland (Will Patton).
Previously, we learned that Woodrue created the biological accelerant more than likely causing the illness spreading from the swamp. Woodrue’s demeanor is unnerving and the scene with him and Abby in the morgue reminded me of Dr. J.S. Steinman from BioShock.
He is detached from the reality that the body he is performing an autopsy on was once human and the choice to listen to classical music only adds to his unsettling nature. Woodrue almost seems gleeful at the discoveries. His approach to the disease is so vastly marked as different from Abby’s who is more concerned with the lives that are being taken.
As more people begin to get sick and the outbreak showing no signs of slowing down, Abby with the help of Liz Tremayne (Maria Sten), the local journalist in town and Abby’s friend, break into Alec’s lab, without the permission of Avery, in hopes of finding some semblance of an answer to stopping the outbreak. This happens all while more questions about Avery’s involvement begin to surface.
“He Speaks” also gives us another interaction with Abby and Swamp Thing. Previously, Susie Coyle told her Swamp Thing told her his name is Alec, heavily implying that Alec isn’t dead but instead something else entirely. This revelation was not a shock to fans of the comic and a pretty easy plot point to see coming.
With that, the scene where we first hear Swamp Thing speak, as denoted by the name of the title, was even more of a shock. In the scene, Swamp Thing saves Abby from another mutant creature created from the swamp. The red lighting of the scene sets the mood for the encounter.
Both Swamp Thing and the bizarre creature of a man he fights’ designs are incredible. The detail shown is remarkable. Swamp Thing‘s production value shows, more so than any other DC Universe show. The mix of practical and CGI effects make the show grounded, as bad CGI never takes viewers out of the moment like it often did for me while watching Titans. The use of body horror is still prevalent throughout this episode and a lot of the grosser designs of the creatures and the way the disease manifests itself are a beautiful type of disgusting. They work extremely well and are never overdone. The show is far from gory, using the disturbing moments sparingly to create the proper amount of unease from viewers.
Additionally, the use of lighting throughout the series is excellent. The muted colors of the swamp over are never dull and the elaborate sets continue to make Marais, Louisiana feel as real and eerie as the show wants us to. And while a lot of the show is dark, the use of lightning and in the scene above, a flare, add a lot of dimension to the cinematography.
The moments between Abby and Swamp Thing are full of chemistry, almost more so than when Alec was human. It is the type of monster story that we have seen in Shape of Water and even Hellboy, both staples created by another master of horror, Guillermo del Toro. And while Abby is the unofficial main character of the series thus far, Mears shines as Swamp Thing.
Despite only delivering a few lines of dialogue and working through a suit of makeup, he embodies the complicated emotions of the character making another lovable monster to add to the fray next to the Amphibian Man from Shape of Water. Swamp Thing also never seems like an unintelligent creature like horror monster of the past such as The Creature from the Black Lagoon. Instead, Swamp Thing retains the intelligence of Alec Holland though his memory and personality are a bit muddled at the moment. This makes me a much more interesting character.
Overall, “He Speaks” is an excellent episode and does a lot to move the plot forward. Reed’s portrayal of the kindhearted Abby Arcane is endearing. Her chemistry with both Mears and Bean is good. My only issue, which is a nitpick, is that the show wants viewers to believe Abby and Alec had more romantic moments than they did prior to his death and the seeming resurrection as Swamp Thing. But even with that, Swamp Thing continues to be a shining beacon for the DC Universe despite Warner Brothers extinguishing it’s torch so soon.
Swamp Thing’s third episode, “He Speaks,” is streaming now on the DC Universe with the fourth episode dropping June 21st.
Swamp Thing, Episode 3 - "He Speaks"
Overall, “He Speaks” is an excellent episode and does a lot to move the plot forward. Reed’s portrayal of the kindhearted Abby Arcane is endearing. Her chemistry with both Mears and Bean is good. My only issue, which is a nitpick, is that the show wants viewers to believe Abby and Alec had more romantic moments than they did prior to his death and the seeming resurrection as Swamp Thing.